In keeping with the state of the industry theme in this issue, I thought it might be useful to provide a glimpse of how some of my customers view the state of their own rental companies and the local (and national) economy that affect them. Even though as a consultant I'm very confidential and don’t even share my customers’ names, I can tell you some of their feelings and thoughts concerning this timely issue.
My customers are more than “cautiously optimistic” about the state of their companies. That phrase was in vogue a year or two ago, but the degree of enthusiasm has ratcheted up a few notches since then. Still, the sentiment is a far cry from “irrational exuberance.”
So let’s say their collective rating for the state of the rental industry is “very healthy” (especially in relation to three to five years ago).
Despite this positive point of view, many of these rental company owners voice displeasure and objections to some of our government’s economic policies relating to businesses and the direction the government is taking them. For example, many are genuinely concerned about the new health care law and how it throws their companies (and all small businesses) into uncertainty. They also report feeling that more regulations and mandates are on the way – it’s just a matter of time, and it might arrive sooner rather than later.
With that said, these rental business owners are not in a defensive posture – they are genuinely optimistic that their business models and systems will enable them to survive and thrive. Many, for example, are planning to invest fairly aggressively in their businesses this year. (I expect The Rental Show will indeed be a huge selling opportunity for suppliers and construction equipment sales, in particular, should be brisk.) The rental business owners I deal with are definitely not in a “lock down, survival mode," they're actively pursuing opportunities to become greater at what they do.
Another common topic of conversation and increasing concern is the dwindling supply of qualified applicants in many job categories. To help with this troubling trend, some rental business operators are placing a greater emphasis on developing more effective interviewing, hiring and training strategies. Some are also implementing a variety of advanced employee motivation and retention strategies. The training of managers and other supervisors is a priority with many rental business owners I deal with on a regular basis.
Many rental companies that I work with want to be on the leading edge of utilizing technology to make their rental businesses grow - and to do so much more efficiently. Of course, the companies that invest in the use of a consultant are perhaps more likely to be looking for technological methods to improve their businesses.
Again, the rental business owners I talk with are not fixated on all the political wrangling in our nation’s capital. Whether they like it or not, some political decisions are ones they feel they can’t do anything about. But they’d all prefer to just run their businesses without so much government interference.
So, to summarize, the “vibe” or mood I'm getting from rental company owners is very upbeat. We all know that a number of national or international catastrophes could upset the apple cart. But, for now and for the foreseeable future, the state of the rental industry is strong and getting stronger.